My obsession with mangos can be dated back to my childhood. Owning my very own mango tree was on my list of Things To Do Before I’m Twenty, written as a ten year old dreamer. So when I moved into my apartment in the lull area of Christ Church in Barbados and noticed one of my neighbors had a large mango tree, I was automatically enthralled and could not wait to start picking.
*Pump your breaks J*
One of my only friends at the time informed me that you cannot just pick mangos off of someone else’s tree. “You have to ask,” he advised.
I gave him a stare full of confusion and disappointment. I could not find the logic in asking for something that came from the earth and was practically hanging off of her property. But because I had just moved to the island and did not have any criminal offenses on my record yet, I decided I would heed his advice. I pumped myself up to go for the kill and just ask for some. But fear met me halfway and when I finally reached my neighbor’s property, all I could muster was “nice mango tree”, which halted a response of a half smirk; not one single word escaped her mouth.
As I walked away, utterly disappointed, my mind raced with angry thoughts…
Screw her, she knows I wanted some mangos!
Do I have to beg?
Does she plan on eating all those damn mangos herself?!
From that day forward, I walked past that house with complete disdain for a woman I did not even know. I just could not fully grasp how she could be so territorial over something that brought so much joy to the human palate.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I was so upset about something as inconsequential as not being offered any mangos. Let me explain: my perturbed feelings towards her had stemmed from the countless cases of cultural coldness and aloofness I had experienced since moving. I was an alien to these people, and I definitely didn’t feel any love in this part of town. It is not that she simply did not offer, but more that I felt so unwelcome that I would have never felt comfortable enough to even ask in the first place. Any book on common courtesy would tell you that when someone compliments your mango tree, you must say thank you, at the very least, right? Perhaps even offer them at least one piece of fruit? It was frustrating.
One day, I decided to go for a run. Since my huge move, I had an obsession with something else too – macaroni pie – and oh, did it suit my figure. I ran all over my neighborhood, taking in the captivating sights that helped to reassure me that I did not make a poor decision in moving to this rock.
On my way back, a handwritten note covering a bowl distracted me. Curious as to why I hadn’t noticed the sign on my way up, I stopped to read it.
HOLY HELL! Mangos!
The note accompanying them read: FREE Please take some Mangoes, Welch Family.
I took as many as my small hands could hold. I headed back to my apartment with the largest smile to date. The Welch Family understood that mangos were to share, not hoard.
Screw you and your mangos, neighbor lady! I have my own now!
The Welch’s reminded me of family. You know, the kind of family that treats you like their own, without that underlying tone of when are you leaving my house? They restored my faith in humanity. I wanted to bring them a gift, a thank you card, or something to express my gratitude. They needed to understand the impact they had on me with their simple gesture of kindness.
I walked by one evening with my significant lover and the Welch Family seemed to be watching television (I was not snooping, their door was open). My significant lover thought I was crazy as I screamed, “Excuse me, excuse me!”
A lady came out (Mrs. Welch, I assumed), and I thanked her for brightening my day a week ago with her offering of mangos. She was receptive, and said that it was not a problem whatsoever.
We had only inched away when she called after me. I walked back to my hub of happiness, and she asked if I’d like some more mangos. The heavens had opened up.
I walked home with a bag full of mangos and a whole new perspective on island life.